Lines of fabrication not lost in translation
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Architectural drawings typically serve solely as graphic representations of a project intended to be constructed. The drawings are subsequently interpreted by a fabricator through a process where a significant amount of information must be extracted or formulated on-site by the builder. This translation often creates a disconnection between the process of design and the process of fabrication because information is interpreted, misinterpreted, or lost and the intended design becomes distorted by the builder. Architectural projects that use this method experience a reduction of clarity and craft through each step of the process and result in an altered project due to lost information. Digital drawings contain a significant amount of information that is integral to a project but cannot be transmitted through printed graphics. By transmitting a line directly from a drawing to the fabrication process, could the method of drawing play a much more direct role in construction of a project? Could CNC (computer numerical control) fabrication reverse the separation and reunify the architect with the process of fabrication? How can lines increase their role as the tool of the architect by directly transmitting drawn information to instruct the method of fabrication? Prefabricated construction attempts to address the disconnection between the architect and on-site methods of construction. Systems of prefabrication begin to unify the process of drawing and building but are still largely controlled by the construction industry because they continue to use the standard process of transmitting information through representative drawings. However, digitally controlled fabrication presents a direct relationship between drawing and fabricating. This enables the architect to control a project through the very lines of a drawing because a CNC fabricator translates lines directly into a method of material manipulation. Consequently, this enables the lines drawn by an architect to become paths for tooling. In this situation, drawings are no longer merely graphical representations because they also become direct instructors to the fabrication process. This gives the architect the ability for increased control of information and the way it is transmitted. The project will involve precedent research through books and articles about prefabrication, traditional building methods, and digital fabrication. Through this precedent research the relationship of emerging technologies, techniques, and methods of fabrication will be explored to understand how they are being implemented and what possibilities exist for further development. Fabrication research will also be conducted to develop knowledge of current systems and methods. Part of this research will include visiting existing prefabrication or manufacturing facilities to understand how they are fabricating their product and how technology is currently being used. The tools available at the university (laser cutter and CNC wood router) will be used to develop and explore the potential of digital fabrication. The primary medium for these explorations will be sheet material such as plywood, foam and plastics which are readily available. The explorations will be carried out with the intention of developing a method of drawing that enables a more direct translation between drawing and fabricating. Models and/or full-scale mock ups will be produced for analysis and further study. This study will explore the potential of digital fabrication in order to determine if and how the direct relationship between drawing and digital fabrication could advance the way buildings are designed and constructed. The study intends to produce an advanced method of drawing that enables the lines of a drawing to give the architect a high level of control in the transmission of information.